Let’s Open Federal Lands for Energy Exploration

The Wall Street Journal – The Experts
September 30, 2014
By Dr. Ariel Cohen

ARIEL COHEN: If I could pass one energy policy, what would it be?

I would open federal lands and offshore acreage for hydrocarbon prospecting.

The unconventional oil and gas boom reinvigorated the U.S. hydrocarbon sector and U.S. economy, and it needs space to grow using new safe exploration and production methods. The federal government should be opening up federal property to further exploration to take advantage of this hydrocarbon boom. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has limited U.S. energy growth potential to mostly private lands, and is squandering new opportunities made available through advanced technology.

The Administration claims it is pursuing an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy to encourage safe and responsible production of oil and gas resources on federal lands and waters, but in fact the numbers speak for themselves: The administration is simply cutting back on energy production on federal lands.

In a Congressional Research Service report, the Obama administration has overseen a 6% decrease in oil and 28% decrease in gas production on federal lands in part due to delays in the permitting process that is taking upwards of 41% longer to fulfill. This behavior has potentially cost hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in federal revenue. This approach is similar to the delaying tactics the White House undertook towards the Keystone-XL pipeline. Right now, the U.S. is riding the wave of unconventional energy production. Thus, federal land and offshore hydrocarbon exploration and production licensing policies are needed to foster the technologically sound and environmentally safe economic opportunities it may provide, not obstruct them.

Ariel Cohen (@Dr_Ariel_Cohen) is director of the Center for Energy Natural Resources and Geopolitics at the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security.